If you were alive in the '90s, then the name Frances Bean Cobain certainly means something to you. Her father is, of course, the late Kurt Cobain, of Nirvana; her mother, Courtney Love, of Hole. Together, they’re rock royalty, and that alone brought their daughter fame, whether she wanted it or not. But now, Cobain, 25 and living in California, is living her life the way she wants.
“I get to navigate my life in a very normal way,” she said Thursday night at the launch of Other Peoples Children, a space showcasing art and design by emerging artists, including herself (Cobain had a painting on display), with some of the proceeds going to Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for gun control.
“People don’t follow me around, and they don’t stop me in a way where it’s excessive or invasive,” she continued. “It’s always respectful. If it’s not, I set my boundaries, and I walk away. That’s just what you kind of have to do. But most people are really nice, and when you’re nice, I have no reason not to just engage as a person. We’re all just people.”
She connects with those whose “trajectory to their childhood sounds like plots to movies,” she said. Hers certainly does, if you know anything about her past.
“I identify with that,” she said. “I had a lot of strong women around my whole life who were survivors. My grandma survived breast cancer twice and the death of her child and the death of her brother, and, you know, just a lot of tragedy, and she’s still the happiest person I’ve ever met.”
“Having an immediate example of somebody who not only survives, but thrives, is a good way of navigating how I coexist in the world with shitty stuff and beautiful stuff, and how it balances,” Cobain continued. “It just comes from a place of learning, and wanting to grow and evolve.”
Today, that evolution has brought her to an interest in art, which she says she began to explore in eighth grade when she “became a shitty emo kid” and “started listening to a lot of My Chemical Romance.”
“I would doodle on my desk,” she recalled. “The Descendents’ mascot Milo, I was obsessed with drawing him, and then I started really enjoying creating warped, beautiful things that came from my brain, not based on reality at all. I’ve always felt more comfortable in fantasy. Fantasy has felt more real to me at times. Drawing was an immediate outlet for that: to create. It’s been my ability to create my own world.”
Her painting in this show, featuring a small, angel-like character in one corner, was inspired by a tattoo Courtney Love got when she was pregnant with her daughter.
“It’s supposed to be her interpretation of what she thinks I’m going to look like when I was in her stomach, and it’s horrible, terrifying,” explained Cobain. “I tried to reimagine it from the perspective of imagining what I think she thought I would have looked like in the womb. It’s a weird train of thought, but I tried to think from her perspective.”
Her mom was also there tonight to take in the piece herself. “She’s around somewhere,” Cobain said. “I’m glad she came out. It’s really nice of her to support me.”
By at that point in the evening, there was a line halfway down the block on Melrose Avenue, by La Cienega Boulevard, across the street from Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs, where previously there had been a billboard of Cobain from the spring 2017 campaign.
“I really enjoy the aesthetic of building my fashion sense,” she said of working in the industry. “I enjoy the process of going through fashion phases. I don’t love the narcissism that comes with that world, though there are people who are negated from that way of thinking. Like my friend Jeremy [Scott], who’s here tonight. He’s the most brilliant, kind person [...] So, people like him make me feel encouraged to be able to have fun with it, and not allow it to be the epicenter of my universe. As long as I keep it at arm’s length, I really like it.”
The event, curated by Joanie Del Santo, who’s friends with Cobain, and David Friend, also featured Cobain’s boyfriend the artist Matthew R.Cook, Sasha Frolova, and Daria Kobayashi Ritch, among others. But it wasn’t hard to see that the crowd predominantly came for Cobain, who promoted the event on her Instagram, @space_witch666, reaching about 832,000 followers and counting.
And then there’s @spacewitchin_in_thekitchen, her other handle, dedicated to cooking, with over 72,000 followers—and yet only six posts.
“Oh, my God, the thing about my food Instagram is that I totally forgot the password, so I have 70,000 followers that get no further updates, because I can’t get into the account,” she clarified. “It’s totally a passion project, and the thing that I discovered about cooking is that I never liked cooking until maybe six months ago. I like that it’s structured; it’s either good or bad.”
“Doing the Instagram stories is more about me keeping myself in check, and learning the process of doing it and taking my followers on the process of learning with me, as opposed to it being instructional. It’s more like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ll let you know how I do,’” she continued. “It’s not Martha Stewart telling you how to bake a cake. It’s just like, I enjoy doing this, watch me as I do it.”
“I have fantasies about drawing and writing my own comic book cookbook one day,” she said. “I’ve never seen a comic book cookbook before. Why not!”